Cardinals – 56, Buffalo – 20

August 30

Brought to you, previously recorded, from the frozen tundra of Vikings Savings Bank Field at Alexandria Area High School in Alexandria, Minnesota . . . 

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[OK, it was actually quite the perfect evening for the Cardinals opening game of the 2019 season . . . ]

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[And now, the particulars . . . ]

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[This game attracted statewide interest because we were playing the Buffalo Bison, with their star quarterback, Aidan Bouman (whose father once played quarterback for the Vikings).  Here he is pictured on the right, along with Jalen Suggs of Minnehaha Academy, as the best pair of senior quarterbacks to come out of the state (Strib, 8-26-19).  He is now listed at 235 pounds on their current roster . . . ]

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Quarterback
Aidan Bouman, Buffalo: 6-6, 210. A lifetime at the knee of father Todd, a longtime NFL quarterback, coupled with a strong, accurate arm. The best pro-style QB in the state. Passed for 3,474 yards and 41 TDs in 2018. Iowa State-bound. (Strib, 8-27-19)

[But I digress, back to the game . . . ]

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[Further proof it was a perfect evening as the regular crowd shuffles in  . . . ]

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[It was parents’ night, so likely the only parents of high schoolers who knew where their kids were on a Friday night . . . ]

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[The team captains met at field center for the coin toss and other related matters.  The Bison student section was in the background, though I was surprised at the small crowd on the visitors’ side . . . ]

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[I laughed when over the PA system it was announced that one of the teams would be on “this side.”  Huh?  Unless the ref in the huddle was mic’d and said that . . . ]

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[Mark Ripley and Mike Kluver have been covering the Cards from a photographic and video perspective since the Great Depression . . . ]

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[Now do we understand where everybody is going?  The Cards won the toss but elected to defer . . . ]

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[Senior Sean Haak (4) handled the kicking duties . . . ]

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[Following him through on his appointed task . . . ]

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[NASA, we have liftoff  (can you the ball against the bleachers,  about half way up in the middle of the picture?) . . .

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[Now, truly airborne . . . ]

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[Spotting it on radar . . . ]

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[As the ball almost escaped Earth’s gravity, the Cards rocketed down the field in pursuit.  I got an idea of our overall team speed here as we tackled the Bison ball carrier on about their own 10-yard line . . . ]

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[The first play for QB Bouman (8) from the shotgun, which almost all teams use all the time now . . . ]

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[He’s looking . . . ]

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[But Cardinal right defensive end, senior Derek Pasta (85), decided a sack sounded like a good play . . . ]

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[So he pounced upon his prey . . . ]

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[Derek is not big for a defensive end, 6’2″, 216 pounds, but he has speed . . . ]

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[He’s also a hockey player . . . ]

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[Down goes Bouman!  (And spoiler alert, Pesta was defensive player of the game . . . ]

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[Since he was almost tackled for a safety, Bouman rolled out on the next play . . . ]

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[He moved well for a big guy and seemed comfortable doing it . . . ]

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[Nevertheless, it was a 3-and-out for the Bison and they had to punt . . . ]

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[The Cards got the ball on our own 48-yard line . . . ]

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[On the first play, senior quarterback Matthew Carlsen (7) handed off to junior running back Nolan Morical (5) . . . ]

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[Nolan saw a hole he liked and cut for it . . . ]

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[He’s in the hole . . . ]

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[And the next thing you knew, he was in the end zone. A 52-yard touchdown run!  Exactly 42 seconds from the start of the game, the Cards had a 7 – 0 lead . . . ]

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[Hooray for our team!]

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It’s time for some further background.  I went to the preseason scrimmage last year and came to the conclusion it was going to be a tough year for the Cards.  It was . . .  but they got better as the season progressed ending with a big win over Moorhead.  I went to the preseason scrimmage again this year, and owing to my reputation as a talent scout of some repute (some would say ‘ill repute’), I saw a completely different team from the previous year.  Now in his 2nd year as starter, Carlsen looked poised and comfortable at QB (he’s also a pitcher in baseball and defenseman in hockey, all-around athlete).  On a very windy day, his passes were sharp and right on the money.  And he has help.  The Cards 4×100 relay team won the state meet last spring (the first outstate team to do so since 1847), and three of those guys are on this football team, including the aforementioned Morical.  So, I figured we could score . . .

[But back to the game, the first series for each team set the tone for the entire game.  The Cards were going to score; and despite Bouman’s considerable talents, the Bison were not.  The biggest surprise for me was how well our defense played – we’re small but speedy and really attack the ball . . . ]

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[Here Matthew picks out his favorite target, sophomore slot receiver Kristen Hoskins (13) who caught 12 balls for 3 TD’s and about 200 yards.  Kristen was one of the 4×100 relay guys and also stars for the basketball team.  He’s obviously a really good athlete – but I didn’t know he had such good hands as he never seems to drop passes . . . ]

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[This time rolling and passing right . . . ]

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[And in the duel of the lefthanded quarterbacks, it was Matthew’s night . . . ]

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[Here’s another handoff to Nolan, looking for that right side hole . . . ]

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[This time Matthew looked deep . . . ]

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[Received a protective block from Nolan . . . ]

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[A 13-yard TD pass to Kristen . . . ]

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[Handoff or not?]

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[What a job here by the O-line . . . ]

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[2nd quarter now (see how I picked up on that?).  The telephoto lens makes the Grand Arbor complex seem like it’s just outside the fence – it’s actually a few hundred yards away on the other side of the street . . . ]

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[Matthew’s rolling right again with Nolan’s protection . . . ]

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[Down close, the handoff goes to junior Aaron Jost (36) . . . ]

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[Then Nolan took it in on the next play, Cards up 21 – 0 . . . ]

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[The Bison tried a running play . . . ]

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[But the Cards pretty much stuffed those attempts all game long . . . ]

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[Derek again rushes in on another passing attempt.  The Bison eventually started to doubleteam him . . . ]

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[I think Bouman got this one off . . . ]

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[Then a flair to the right . . . ]

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[And this may have been the play where he really showed off his credentials.  With Derek bearing down on him again, he hit a 76-yard TD pass to his speed receiver Michael Tweten (2).  The ball must have gone 70 yards in the air and hit him in stride.  That was their only TD against us when the score was still meaningful . . . ]

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[But that TD only made us mad.  We came back immediately with back-to-back passes to Kristen that covered 77 yards, with the TD pass good for 38 yards . . . ]

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[And the cheers for it!]

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[Bouman kept firing.  His game stats ended up pretty good.  He completed 21 – 44 (that percentage was good coverage by our guys), and threw 3 TD passes . . . ]

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[Here’s a flair to Tweten who, like Kristen, caught 12 balls . . . ]

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[But he only broke that one long one . . . ]

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[And they still weren’t able to run.  Noticing sophomore DE Wyatt Odland (28) here – he’s only 5-11 and 204 pounds, but if they were running to the opposite side he would run it down from behind . . . ]

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[Early on it was obvious they always thought they could throw against us.  Several times they went for it on 4th and long, and from deep in their own territory?  They never did go back in a punt formation – every once in a while Bouman would actually pooch kick from his usual shotgun position.  Never figured out what they were doing, but it didn’t work . . . ]

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[We didn’t score from down here at the close of the 1st half . . . ]

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[But prior to this Matthew hit another TD pass to Kristen for 45 yards . . . ]

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[At the half  (and some people left then hoping to avoid the game end traffic jam) . . . ]

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[I brought out the Cardinals’ lucky charm for the season opener.  Brad made his first game in a looonnngggg time.  He’s been on the IR (Illness Reserve) but survived the entire game.]

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[I call this, “The Call.”  I predicted Nolan (5) was going to take the 2nd half kickoff all the way – and he did, 91 yards . . . ]

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[Touchdown!!  So, our first offensive touches at the start of both halves were touchdowns runs by Nolan . . . ]

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[Time for a shout out to the other member of the 4×100 relay team.  Senior WR/DB Cody Branson (15) played both ways, caught a couple passes, but he was really a big key defensively with his size (6’3″) and speed mostly covering Tweten and preventing the long pass . . . ]

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[The hi-tech bench to review what happened “in real time” (I hate that phrase).  I went down at halftime and watched a re-run of “Family Guy” . . . ]

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[At the end of the 3rd quarter.  They got their last touchdown after our only turnover of the game, deep in our end after making a first down . . . ]

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[The “skill” position starters all came out in the final series of the 3rd quarter and didn’t play at all in the 4th.  We never attempted a pass in the last period, just literally trying to run out the clock.  Here junior quarterback Brady McCoy (1) hands off to Aaron (36), a starter who hadn’t had many carries . . . ]

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[They scored again after we gave them a short field.  Expecting an onside kickoff, they went deep and we downed it on our 12-yard line.  But on the first play from there, sophomore Will Heydt (38) took it the distance for our last touchdown.  Got to congratulate his proud granddad on the way out . . . ]

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[Sidelines as the game wound down:  Sophomore QB Carter Steffensmeier (11) with his classmate Kristen (13); senior WR Jaymeson Molesworth (9) who had a catch or two as I recall; senior LB Xavier Homelvig (35) had a terrific game hitting people all over the field; sophomore WR Matthew Olson (40) . . . ]

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[Xavier (35), Matthew (7), senior tackle Isaac Siegel (54)

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[And so, until the next game.  This could be a really fun year if we can stay healthy.  But isn’t that always the case?  We’ve had a few very good teams over the last several years that were derailed by injury.  Keeping my fingers crossed . . . ]

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Remember that as a teenager you are at the last stage of your life when you will be happy to hear that the phone is for you.  ~  Fran Lebowitz

Up Next:  I’m so confused . . .

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